Buying Your Teenager A Car

Being a teenager is hard. Your body is changing, school is getting harder, society has higher expectations for you, you might have to save the world…it’s not an enjoyable time. In addition to these hard times, there’s also the added embarrassment of being dropped off at school by your mom who thinks she’s cooler than she is (no mom, “groovy” is not a thing anymore) in a minivan that could transport the entire Brady Bunch. At some point, your teenager is going to want their own vehicle, whether they buy it themselves or you buy it for them, and there are some things that a 16-year-old just won’t know. Here are some things you should go over with your new driver before they decide on a car to buy.

Safety Matters

Teen drivers just don’t have the experience that adults have when it comes to driving. With experience comes knowing how to deal with dangers of the road such as ice and other drivers. Teen drivers are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than adults. While safe cars won’t be very stylish, they’ll keep you alive.

Do I Look Like A Bank?

Whether your teenager is working or not, odds are they don’t know a lot about how the financial world works (does anyone?). Most people don’t have $50,000 in disposable income to put towards a BMW for their teenager. But there are plenty of options out there for good cars that are relatively cheap, even coming in at less than $10,000. Talk to your teen about a budget, whether you’re splitting cost or buying outright, and come to a decision keeping that in mind. Also remember to budget for gas and maintenance (maybe some accessories too, like furry dice).

Looks Aren’t Everything

I understand that you want to be cool. Rolling up to your lame high school in a beautiful Mercedes would shoot you right to the top of the “cool kids” list. But let’s face it, just having a car is going to add to your “street cred” (yes I’m cool). Don’t worry so much about how the car looks and worry instead about the things that matter in a vehicle such as safety and fuel efficiency. You don’t know how to talk to girls anyways, so a car really isn’t going to help (or was that just me?).

Gas Is Not Cheap

How awesome would it be to own an F-150 in high school? Just roll up to class with your diesel engine and wheel a bunch of your classmates around in the bed of your truck…so awesome. At least until you have to fill up your tank because you used all your gas showing off. Gas in Oakville now is about $1.20/L meaning a full tank is going to cost you about $120. Not exactly pocket change. Look for a more fuel-efficient vehicle so you’re not spending all your hard-earned cash on a gas tank.

New Or Used?

When debating between getting a new or used vehicle, the big issue will come from what your different priorities are. Your priorities are probably cost and safety while your teenager’s priority are probably looks and performance. Quite often the new cars will have the latest in safety technology, but might be more expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, you might find a nice looking used car that might not be as safe. This is a decision you’ll need to make with your teenager. (For the record we have some nice used cars that won’t break the bank.)

Teach Them

There are a lot of things that teenagers think they know, and a lot of things that they don’t know, but we know. You know? A teenager isn’t going to know what the purpose of oil is, what the different gas octanes mean (which you know since you obviously read our article about it), or what the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow is (the African kind). So make sure you educate your teenager on the basics of cars before deciding on one.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Owning a car is not a right, it’s a privilege that comes with its own set of responsibilities. Decide with your teenager what they are responsible for such as gas and maintenance. Quite often it is cheaper to add your teen to your insurance rather than them getting their own, so maybe that’s something you add to your plan. No matter what you decide, make sure you go over your teenager’s responsibilities before pulling the trigger on this.


Buying your child a car might be one of the highlights of their lives, so enjoy it. Soak in the joy and excitement that you see coming from your teenager as before you know it, things will be back to normal with the attitude and angst that teenagers are famous for.